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Validating bird diversity indicators on farmland in east-central Alberta, Canada

  • Author(s) / Creator(s)
  • Birds can be used as indicators to monitor success of programs encouraging prairie landowners to increase biodiversity. Using a case study from Alberta, Canada, this paper compares bird diversity measures at the farm scale and examines their consistency across different habitat types to test for design, output, and end use validation. Based on 2005 point count data (two types) from 178 sites at 22 farms, we calculated bird species richness, abundance, Shannon index, and Inverse Simpson index. The 50m radius data produced species richness and abundance measures about half the size as those produced by the unlimited radius data. The bird diversity measures were consistent across habitat types. The 50m radius data showed differences among 3–5 habitat types, whereas the unlimited radius data showed differences between only two habitat types. Using any bird diversity measure, the wetland/riparian habitat scored highest, followed by homestead, upland forest, native prairie, tame pasture, and cultivated land habitats. Bird monitoring methods should favor fixed over unlimited radius point counts, because of the former's greater discriminating ability. Given that diversity measures are consistent across habitats and are highly correlated, the species richness measure, which is simple and easy to understand, can be used in conversations with landowners and policy-makers.

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  • Type of Item
    Article (Draft / Submitted)
  • DOI
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    Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
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  • Citation for previous publication
    • Validating bird diversity indicators on farmland in east-central Alberta, Canada. (2011). Ecological Indicators, 11(2), 741–744.